Monday, February 6, 2012

An Examination of Protestant/Evangelical Race Based Special Interest Theology (Parts 3 and 4 of 5)


Outline:

Part 1

   I. Introduction
  II. Race Based Special Interest Theology

Part 2

  III. Divine Institutions
  IV. The Body of Christ and Its Spiritual DNA

Part 3

   V. The Error of Racial Theological Prescription through Racial Identification
  VI. Labels and Their Implication

Part 4

   VII. Human Properties and the Body of Christ: Anecdotal vs. Primary
  VIII. Spiritual Camaraderie Does Not Assume or Require Social Camaraderi
     IX. Social Constructs vs. Spiritual Constructs

Part 5

     X. Racial Narcissism, Racism, and Anthropologicalism
    XI. Black Trophyism/Chasing Down Black People
   XII. Hoisting “Whiteness” Upon Orthodoxy
  XIII. Conclusion

_____________

(Edited and Revised Nov 2012)

Part 3

V. The Error of Racial Theological Prescription through Racial Spiritual Identification

Often you will hear the term the “black church” and when you do it should be as offensive as the white church, the right-handed church, the brunette church, the Asian church or the handicapped church and so on. Get the point? As made clear from above, the body of Christ is just that, the body of Christ.

Why We Assemble as Christians: The Single Denominator - Christ

The assemblies of our Lord should assemble because they share a singular denominator- Jesus Christ. Now, in reality it might not be true that all assemblies using the name of Christ come together for the right reasons . However, God has prescribed for us the protocol (Christ) for coming together for corporate spiritual exercise and if it is not being done properly in other places and in those other places, where something else is being done, it appears to give some benefit to its participants (particularly social/personal benefit), this is no excuse or warrant that we are to do otherwise.

When we assemble together as believers it is so we may exercise ourselves, spiritually, in a corporate manner. This is normally done through the corporate exercise of being taught God’s Word, singing, and praying and partaking in the Lord’s Supper and baptism along with ancillary matters which serve spiritual objectives. The book of Acts gives an account, with respect to the objective of why believers meet together:
Acts 2:42
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Why is this? It is because as spiritual people we are to engage in that which spiritually edifies and enlightens. It is not time to come and be at the gym and work out or any other non-spiritual emphasis. Non-spiritual things do occur when we meet but they are anecdotal. Be clear though, God has not done away with anthropological structures and their boundaries and you will still participate in them as believers but the body of Christ is a spiritual body which is regulated by spiritual truths.

Unfortunately the body of Christ has been used for many special interests throughout history; political, racial, cultural and sexual and so on. However, God intended for it to have a singularity of cause which is the cause of Christ, the sole denominator and when our special interests invade, we attack Christ himself.

The Body of Christ: One Race, a Spiritual Race

Within the body of Christ, when we come together, there should not be human properties used to describe what kind of church we are. We should be Christ’s church and our brothers and sisters in the Lord are just that, brothers and sisters in the Lord, no more and no less. And this speaks to the need to address the difference between anthropological and spiritual constructs and why, when we meet as brothers and sisters in the Lord and enjoy spiritual camaraderie, it does not necessitate that we will have social camaraderie. This will be covered in more detail in part 4.

When we allow for racial identifications as an adjective in describing our spiritual body we do great harm to the body of Christ. We deny the message of our Lord and the intent of the God’s spiritual community to be one that is spiritually formed; instead we emphasize the propriety of humanity. Our fellowship (spiritual camaraderie) is based on what we share in common, spiritually, not humanly. This is why, in the body of Christ, those of a particular race, gender, ethnicity, culture or political identification may find camaraderie with other believers. It is because the language we speak to one another is a spiritual language not vested with human interests or looking to human advantages.

To call a church a “(insert anthropological special interest) church”, even to use the term generally as many do, is to violate the principles we have already uncovered which is that the body of Christ is a spiritual body and anthropological identification is disharmonious with this truth. When we engage in race based identification with respect to the spiritual construct which is the body of Christ it hampers our spiritual fellowship seeing that we move from a spiritual construct to and human one and deny full access to others.

VI. Labels and Their Implication

Some people will have an immediate reaction to the previous section appealing to descriptive labels used such as Baptist and Lutheran or those in the New Testament such as “the church at Antioch”. And, in their short-sightedness they walk away claiming they have a right to use such “human properties” as part of their spiritual identification.
Acts 13:1 (NIV)
In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul.
Location and Language Descriptors

Location. The use of Antioch does not tell us what kind of church it is, that is, it does not reveal its theological/spiritual identification. This reference only gives the geographical location of this particular body without the intent of identifying its basis of doctrine and fellowship (theological/spiritual identification). Location labels, therefore, are just that and that alone and do not violate the principle of not using anthropological properties as sources of spiritual identification.

Language. Another legitimate descriptor is one of language. That is, if you speak one language and are in a country which speaks a different language, one might identify the congregation as “Korean” but not because Korean genetics or culture is in view around which a Race Based Theology is built, even in part, but because of a language barrier that has nothing to do with theological, hence spiritual, identification. This is a perfectly acceptable tool which does not speak to spiritual identification, rather providential language barriers which have nothing to do with doctrine or practice.

But if the passage in Acts said, “The white church at Antioch”, we would have a description of the church’s theology, at least in part, which gives us its identification, in part. And to use such human properties like that is to tell us what theology, in part, is being prescribed,  (in this case, a special interest in white people) which is a sin against God since the body of Christ, again, has no special human interests, rather it has spiritual interests. Giving a location or language description is not a theological identification which exists as a theologically prescriptive tag unlike race, which would tell us that there is a vested racial interest as part of their theological/spiritual identification.

Denominational Labels Such as Lutheran

The next issue which is commonly brought up by those wishing to validate the use of human properties as part of their spiritual identification and special interests is the use of theological labels which have human names in them. Martin Luther is a well known Protestant theologian of the Reformation. From his theological development and articulations arose a group of believers who identified with his theology and as a result, labeled themselves, “Lutherans” (this occurred after Luther died and against his stated wishes if ever some group wanted to use his name as part of their ecclesiastical identity).

For what reason did they use Luther’s name as their identification? It was because of his theological articulations, not his person. They were not saying “we follow Martin Luther because of any special human properties” rather, they used his name because of his theological expressions. It was, in essence, a spiritual identification which was being made based in spiritual properties, namely theology.

Now the use of Luther’s name is something to be debated and I believe not to be the most expedient of choices. But what you must understand is the distinction here. Those calling themselves Lutheran are not following Luther, the man, and identify, in part, as those who may share his unique human properties. Instead, they are aligned with the theology articulated by Luther and his name is used as quick reference to what they believe, theologically. Their interest is in the Word of God and has no vested interest in special human properties.

This is quite unlike any church using an anthropological property such as race as its identifier. Race has no theological reference or interest, it has human ones. Hence, racial identification for a spiritual body fails the biblical test since it identifies and prescribes as essential, not a theology but a human property.
                                         
The Deacons at Antioch

Another approach by those who would introduce Race Based Special Interest labels, thereby paving the road to its theology (or vice versa, take your choice) is the event in Acts 6:
Acts 6:1-6 (NIV)
1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
 5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. 
From this some have asserted that this examples a Race Based Special Interest Theology in practice because deacons were chosen to accommodate the Hellenistic Jews. But in fact, what you have is the apostolic rejection of schismatic Special Interest Theology.

Hebraic Jewish Christians/Hellenistic Jewish Christians

The passage identifies two groups, Hebraic Jews and Hellenistic Jews. It does not use these descriptors as legitimizing or prescribing to us the practice of using such labels in association with spiritual identifications. Rather, it is giving you this information precisely so you may know why there is a conflict. So here one should learn why the use of such descriptors highlights just what they don’t belong in the body of Christ.

The Hebraic Jews were believers in Christ who still largely used their Aramaic language and the accompanying Jewish cultural customs. The Hellenistic Jews were believers in Christ but had adopted the Greek culture and language as their predominant social moorings. Before either one of them converted to Christ, it was normal for the Hebraic Jews to hold the Hellenistic Jews in contempt as compromisers. And certainly the Hellenistic Jews returned the antagonism. But now, people in each group are saved and together in the body of Christ.

What happens?

Well, some bring with them into their new faith their bad attitudes or at least remnants of it along with an attachment to their former ways, particularly the Hebraic Jews. These new Hebraic Jewish Christians, seen not only here but later (as some developed into full-blown heretics in attempting to formulate a brand of Judaized Christianity) still held some contempt toward their Hellenistic brothers and sisters in the Lord and practiced Special Interest Theology resulting in more favorable treatment for one group than another based on anthropological interests.

What should have occurred, but did not, was an account in Acts of how they immediately understood that the doctrines of the church were superseding that of the protocol of the Theocracy of Israel. But that didn’t happen. So we have a record of the facts. Thus, to treat descriptions of theological special interest attitudes, which were being practiced in the early church, as somehow as a prescription for us to do so today is to introduce a failing hermeneutic and practice, but worse, miss the point entirely.

An important note should not be missed in this passage. When instructions were given to choose deacons, notice the qualifications given, “Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom”. Spiritual properties were the qualifiers and not human ones.

But regarding the eventual full-blown Judaism which occurred within the Hebraic Jews who had believed on Christ, the book of Galatians gives us this information which is the next consideration.

Paul and Peter and Judaism

It is very important to understand what has just been discussed particularly in light of what is about to be covered. Being a Jew is no longer a human property which brings special logistical or spiritual privileges and blessings. In the tenth Chapter of Acts we have an event where Peter had a vision during which he came to understand that a former dietary protocol for Jews was no longer binding. But from this and beyond Peter came to see that the Judea was in recession on the whole and the body of Christ with new protocols and doctrines arising as the new protocol. Of course this sudden change in protocols didn’t set well with many believing Jews seeing that it was not merely a theological change but a practical one as well. It demanded that what they considered to be divine culture, which was based in a now remitting theology, be understood in a new light, namely that is was no longer a theologically binding culture, its special status removed:
Acts 10:34
34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.
So Peter begins to assert this principle change. However, all does not go so well. Those who once understood their practices to be direct or indirect extensions of their theology now must understand that these are quite suddenly without their former significance.

So, over time this group, of what is described as Hebraic Jewish believers in Christ, sought to retain their former construct where human properties and practices were matters of divine sanction and protocol, thus they became what is known as Judaizers. They attempted to import some of the protocol of one construct, the Theocracy of Israel, and bring it into the new construct, the body of Christ. And this group became very aggressive and intimidating to the point that Peter felt threatened enough to accept their Special Interest Theology as if it were acceptable to mix along with the new doctrine being taught for the body of Christ. Paul had to confront Peter about this:
Galatians 2:11-14 (NIV)
11 When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
 14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?
Peter succumbed to Special Interest Theology. It was simply too difficult for many Jews who did believe on Christ to accept all that came with the body of Christ and its new protocols and doctrines which included the cessation of the Jewish privilege (at least during the church age for those who are pre-millennial and certainly for those who are post and a millennial.  But all must agree on this one point, there are new protocols and doctrines which believing Jews did not like which led them to incorrectly attempt to rescue an inapplicable construct and impose it upon the church).

(*There is some theological dialog to be had about the establishment of the Church verses the Theocracy of Israel and its termination, suspension or fulfillment upon the arrival of the church. But it is not germane to the propositions in this series.)

So What Label Should We Use?

I cannot give you a list of what labels to use because it is not necessary. However, what is necessary is to know, in principle, what does not belong as a label for identification as a spiritual person or body which would be the use of anthropological properties. This is because it implies that the emphasis of doctrine and practice revolves around anthropological interests, even in part, and that is not reflecting the truth of what a spiritual body is in the Word of God. That is sinful and wrong.

There is no such thing as the left-handed church. There is no such thing as the dwarf church. There is no such thing as the black church and there is no such thing as the white church. You need to stop, now, referring to the anthropological properties of your brothers and sisters in the Lord in this way because you do two things:

1. You produce a false schism in the spiritual body which is rejected by God’s Word.

2. You, by implication from the label resulting in this schism or segregated language, deny the rightful identification of brothers and sisters in the Lord as spiritually based and set up a special precedence for human considerations. As a result you place a hindrance upon others and their frame of reference in identifying with their fellow believers and how they may be edified by them.

Part 4

VII. Human Properties and the Body of Christ: Anecdotal vs. Primary

From the material covered so far one can imagine the next question to be is, “how do we, as the body of Christ, refer to human properties or anthropological realities since they remain realities”? Glad you asked so I am going to give you the very best analogy I can to help accelerate your understanding of the matter.

The Military Example

Suppose you are in the military and you attend a meeting. Everyone has on a uniform, right? It represents something, the protocol of the military. And when we refer to Sgt. Roberts we do not say, “White Sgt. Roberts” though he is white, now do we? Why, because his race is irrelevant with respect to the military objective of being a Sergeant.  Just as Capt. Jenkins is not called “Black Capt. Jenkins” because his race has nothing to do with military objectives.

Within the body of Christ we have a similar construct. Our objective is spiritual and those spiritual objectives are met with spiritual doctrines and following spiritual protocol. So things such as culture, race, and ethnicity or gender, while real, are anecdotal with regard to reaching those spiritual objectives.

When Lt. Ramirez briefs a staff no one says, “Lt. Ramirez did a great job as a Spanish Lieutenant.” Why? Because there is no such thing as including your anthropology when giving military briefings. You give military truth that is it. It has no race, just military truth.

Race and Ethnicity are Anecdotal

As you saw in the military example the race of the various military personnel were simply anecdotal. The word anecdotal here means something that may, indeed, be real but is of no significance to the context. The context was a military one and the significance was related to military issues.

The military personnel coming together for their military meeting might have had coffee together, chatted about personnel things, told a few jokes or talked about family and entertainment. But some, on the other hand, may not have interacted at all; possibly they did not find social compatibility. But that is not why any of them met. They met for military reasons. And when the meeting began what occurred? They laid aside these anecdotal issues and got down to the objective as to why they met and meshed like a well oiled machine. They had military camaraderie which was the objective while the anecdotal social relationships were just that, anecdotal.

Just as illustrated above. When you and another believer in the body are in a spiritual context you ought to understand your camaraderie is based in who you both are in Christ; not based on your anthropological interests. Your race is anecdotal in the body of Christ. Your relationship is Christian and based in Christ where we speak the Words of Christ to one another.

It is true you might find some anthropological interests between the two of you to be the same but that is just what it is, anthropological and not spiritual and anthropological camaraderie, even in a church setting, should not be mistaken for spiritual camaraderie and vice versa.

Culture and Socialization in the Body of Christ

Quite a bit has been said in the last fifty years about being “culturally/socially sensitive”  and when local assemblies are formed they should be done so with a strong appeal to local culture in mind. Well, that is not true. How they should be formed is with the Word of God in mind. Local culture will be found in a local assembly without effort to bring it in but it must be in service and subordination to the protocols of God’s Word for the body of Christ, hence anecdotal. It is inevitable that local cultural forms will be within a local body of Christ but again, they are anecdotal and not the objective.

Culture - Suppose you have a cultural custom that where, in order to learn, this culture believes that people must have their faces painted blue. Do you now form a church to accommodate this? Of course not, even if it is a main feature of a culture. Why? Because God makes it clear that to understand spiritual truth all we need to do is be born again and be taught the Word because we have God’s Spirit who enlightens us. To accommodate a blue face painting practice is to deny the sufficiency and basic protocols of God.

On the other hand suppose you are going to have an event which requires feeding some people and the local culture enjoys roasting a pig and in this culture there is a practice of cooking it in a way that everyone enjoys. If the Bible does not have anything here which is in conflict with this, then this cultural item may anecdotally serve the needs of the church since it is performing an anecdotal function which is physical hunger. But you aren’t meeting to roast a pig nor should this event be treated as primary, though enjoyable. Rather, you meet for spiritual purposes while the food is anecdotal.

Socialization vs Fellowship (koinonia) – whether you know it or not the word koinonia (κοινωνία) which is commonly translated “fellowship” is not human socialization; it is spiritual camaraderie, spiritual interaction or spiritual intimacy. Remember the illustration above with the military meeting? While a room full of people will socialize they are not there to socialize, they are there for military intimacy. Socialization may occur and likely does in the context of spiritual fellowship but it is anecdotal. It is not the purpose the meeting nor is it a spiritual exercise, though it may be pleasant as an experience.

And this is what needs to be emphasized here. When the body of Christ meets, its koinonia, even when meeting physical needs such as feeding others, is spiritually based. The social service of feeding is not the objective. Rather the feeding serves the spiritual objective. You might find social satisfaction to some degree in an assembling together as the body of Christ, but you are not there for that objective, so this cannot be the objective. Unfortunately it is, all too often.

When we make any human property such as race, cultural and so on, the primary cause for our coming together, even in part, we adulterate God’s protocol and misinform God’s people as to God’s objective for his spiritual body, the body of Christ.

Anytime a human element, whether it be human properties themselves such as race, ethnicity or gender or its by-products such as cultural are elevated as a necessary property for spirituality, you have crossed the line and now have a dysfunctional doctrine and practice. You have spiritual disorder which will result in disharmony of all sorts, from minor to major schisms and divisions because they body of Christ has wrongly been identified with a default Race Based Special Interest distinction. As a result, all that flows from this will manifest this error; though some may be minuscule some will be very injurious.

VIII. Spiritual Camaraderie Does Not Assume or Require Social Camaraderie

Spiritual camaraderie (biblically true κοινωνία ) is based in, around and through Christ; his person and his doctrine which is the doctrine for the New Testament body of Christ, from its universal and invisible body to its local visible bodies all the way to the individual believer priest. But understand, spiritual camaraderie does not equal social camaraderie and this is a myth that has been imposed upon the church, not just in modern history but all throughout history.

Take everyone in a local church which assembles, even in a church with strong spiritual health. Are they all socially compatible? Of course not and they do not come together because they are socially compatible nor should they expect to be, they come together because of a central and specific reason, Christ. They have that in common. Therefore, when they are “koinoning” (spiritual fellowship) their commonality is Christ and his doctrine and this is where there is true spiritual camaraderie because believers are sharing the same Christ and the same doctrine. This is the basis for genuine spiritual camaraderie or κοινωνία.

Now it is true that spiritual camaraderie or fellowship requires a person to be saved and hold to similar doctrines of your local assembly. So if you have distinct disagreements with a particular local assembly, while you will have light spiritual camaraderie at such an assembly you will not have great spiritual camaraderie. This will require you to audit your beliefs and see if you hold to something in error or, if you do not, find an assembly/resource which holds to these beliefs and enjoy that setting in the body of Christ (there are exceptional circumstances which might compel you to still attend a congregational assembly while disagreeing with some teachings if nothing else is available and then it requires simply, with grace and spiritual finesse, you participating in the koinonia where you can and when you can without begrudging where you disagree).

But understand, simply because you experience spiritual fellowship or camaraderie with someone does not imply or assume that you will or should be socially compatible. Yes, it might help some with your socializing. Obviously as we grow spiritually there are by-products which might change our social interests and align them more with someone else with whom we are not very socially compatible, but these are anecdotal or incidental by-products and not demanded to be so in Scripture. We are only required to have spiritual camaraderie and this is possible because it is done exclusively in, around and through Christ. When we add human elements such as race, ethnicity or culture to the biblical structure or design we again, adulterate God’s plan and injure others by implying, in the least, that a believer must possess something more than a spiritual property in order to engage in the greatest degree of spiritual intimacy with his brother or sister in the Lord.

IX. Social Constructs vs. Spiritual Constructs

As introduced above, the body of Christ is but one of several divine institutions given by God for the purpose of humanity’s perpetuity. The difference between the body of Christ (the Church) and the other divine institutions is that the others are human constructs based on human properties with beneficial human by-products in mind while the body of Christ is a spiritual construct based on spiritual properties and beneficial spiritual by-products in mind.

But within the church, because we have a construct which eliminates anthropological differences in forming itself and operating and because believers experience spiritual harmony and camaraderie between many kinds of humans, racially, ethnically and culturally, some naively rise up and ask the question, “Why can’t we do this with the rest of the world”?

What is the problem with that question?

Hopefully the answer to that question is now apparent to the reader. Each divine institution is regulated by different protocols and you cannot impose on one divine institution the protocols and doctrines for another. It does not work. Let me give you the most obvious example.

The Human Family – to belong to a human, as reflected in Scripture you have an identity, which is based either on your genetics or legal union but still oriented around humanity. Suppose someone wishes to join your family. Simply because they desire to be a member of your family does not mean they get to though they may insist, now do they? They may only do so based upon possessing either proper genetics or lawful declaration, and both of these methods revolve around human properties (human genetics and human courts).

And maybe your family has assets which this other person’s family does not and maybe this other person of another family and your family are both Christians belonging to the same church. Should the church now seek to impose on your family the view that since he is your brother in the Lord you must now also accept him as part of your human family as a matter of fact and share your assets with him?No.

Of course this is ridiculous but this is precisely what is attempted when Christians wish to export the protocols for the body of Christ and impose them upon society, it does not work and cannot work because they are not intended to work that way. 

Human Society and Government – as an extension of the human family we have societies. These societies act in the same manner as human families, with rightfully vested interests in those things such groups value and wish not only to preserve but to promote, not necessarily at the ill-will of others but for their benefit. This is social construct is called government and it is anthropologically based, not spiritually based.

Sometimes governments or peoples are race based, sometimes they are doctrinally based or sometimes some of both. But the Bible never prescribes a prohibition against forms that are based on human properties because that is precisely the basis of government, human properties. In fact, historically, the Bible seems to recognize race based nationalism as well as race mixed nationalism which is really, doctrinally based nationalism. None of these are frowned upon as governmental forms themselves.

Unfortunately some would, again, take the construct of the body of Christ which succeeds with its harmony and impose it upon the construct of human government and society altogether. What is the problem? The harmony in the body of Christ is based in, around, one and through Christ and anthropological associations and their constructs are centered in, around, on and through human properties.

In order to impose the construct of the spiritual body of Christ upon society requires society to all be believers and accept that society revolves around Christ. This is not possible and more importantly, not God’s intended use or misuse of the divine institutions and their protocols and doctrines.

Social Organizations – social organizations are based in and around human interests. Photography clubs are for those interested in photography. It excludes others.

Suppose the local photography club is having a dinner serving delicious steak and lobster.  And suppose the club has 20 people, all belonging to a church were 20 other people are also members.  But on that night the 20 other members, who are not photography club members, are eating hot dogs instead of the advantageous steak and lobster (or whatever you consider advantageous). Should believers now march on your club and say you are not being “Christian” and not considering the needs of other brothers and sisters in the Lord?

Of course this is foolish, yet it is proposed by people like Tim Keller and attempted on a grand scale by many Christian leaders. Their elementary flaw is to fail to understand that the spiritual divine institution of the body of Christ and anthropologically based divine institutions operate on and with separate protocols and doctrines and one cannot be imposed on the other, otherwise tyranny, true tyranny, ensues.

It is a fundamental failure to grasp the biblical understanding of divine institutions in the Bible, from their design and intent to their practical application and it is destroying both our churches, which are spiritual structures and our anthropological structures-which have within them very legitimate exclusionary designs based on human properties and their by-products.

8 comments:

healtheland said...

Hello:

I ask you this: was segregation (both the LEGAL - not social - segregation that Piper witnessed in Tennessee and South Carolina and the ecclesiastical segregation of many fundamentalist and evangelical churches that refused to admit black members) wrong?

I will also state that based on perusing sermons and scholarship from the segregationist period, there was DEFINITELY a white church and DEFINITELY white Christians, as the segregationists made frequent, repeated proud appeals to both AND the merits of preserving both. Further, at that time segregationists were VERY SUPPORTIVE of the existence of the separate black church and its distinct character and identity. The segregationists used the rationale "but it will destroy the black church!" for maintaining segregation. It was only when and because desegregation caused the references to "white Christianity" to end that white fundamentalist and evangelical Christians began to demand that nonwhite Christians renounce their distinctive identity also. Which, of course, would be in name only, as the churches would still be for the most part segregated, and reflect the subtle differences in theology (and larger differences in orthopraxy) that developed in these institutions during the time of white-mandated segregation.

On your arbitrary - and self-serving - distinction between "anthropologicalism" and spirituality, allow me to refer you to Acts 13 (the row between Hellenistic and Jewish widows over the former being discriminated against) and James 2 (which forbids false spirituality being used as an excuse to deny legitimate human issues).

Your claim that black emotionalism is rooted in "anthropologicalism" and focusing on it is "racial narcissism" while white intellectualism is legitimate because the Holy Spirit renews the mind is simply incredible. The Holy Spirit produces joy and peace, especially in the worship context. A great example of this was Philip the evangelist upon his converting the Ethiopian. Meanwhile, Paul in his epistles denounced false intellectualism in the Christian context in epistles to Colossae and Corinth. Thus, it appears that the only distinction between "anthropoligicalism" that should be forbidden in the church and spirituality that should be embraced is whether it is associated with whites (intellectualism) or blacks (emotionalism). Conclusion: white superiority = true and good. Black superiority = racial narcissism and bad.

This really is just the tip of the iceberg, but unfortunately Google only allows 4K in comments!

healtheland said...

One more thing.

"The church must develop and maintain its own cultural language that reflects the values and structures of the Scriptures and not of the current culture. This church language can only be shaped by a biblical theology which affirms the real presence of Jesus Christ in worship and our belief that this presence binds the culture together as a community."

Two problems with that. Jim Crow evangelicals most certainly imbibed their contemporary culture, and the next time in this series of yours that I see you acknowledge this or proclaim it to be as big a problem as "racial narcissistic guilt" or was in and of itself a Race Based-Special Interest Theology will be the first. If chasing diversity is wrong, prohibiting it by refusing to allow nonwhites to join your churches and denominations is worse. At the very least, those who wish to see the church more integrated can claim to have a desire to show that the gospel transforms people and creates a church that transcends, rather than merely reflects, society, instead of the opposite case where churches are now actually more segregated than communities, schools and workplaces.

Second ... why did Paul circumcise Timothy? Because Timothy was a Jew, born of a Jewish mother, and Paul wanted Timothy to be well received - accepted - by Jewish Christians and potential Jewish converts. That is not all. In Romans, Colossians and elsewere, Paul specifically commanded that Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians worship together and respect each other. Paul instructed the Jewish Christians not to believe themselves to be superior, true. But he also told the Gentile Christians not to condemn the Jewish Christians for continuing to practice circumcision, observe the Sabbath and holy days, and do other things pertaining to their heritage as Jews. In other words, Paul did not merely command us to be "spiritually bound", but specifically to worship together and respect each other in the process.

"Socially you might find yourself among more of one people than another."

Were this - and some of your other arguments - the case, then there was nothing wrong with Peter and Barnabas withdrawing from table fellowship with the Gentiles.

"There is no sin in this nor is your willingness to place yourself among different anthropological groups proof of some form of super or special spirituality."

There is sin in excluding people from fellowship, which Jim Crow evangelicals and fundamentalists did for the entire history of this country save for the last few decades. And if you are going out of your way to "be with your own kind", as MANY Christians do when they drive past black churches on their way to white ones (and vice versa) then that is carnal behavior that belies a spiritual maturity/sanctification issue that causes one to place his own comfort level above the gospel. Again, if avoiding worshiping with other racial groups is OK, then what was the error with Peter refusing table fellowship with the Gentiles? For it is of a certainty that one's salvation and relationship with God is not determined by who you eat with, hence table fellowship was not a spiritual activity according to your definition.

Again, so many scriptural omissions, denials and blind spots, so little time ...

healtheland said...

Ugh. If only there was an "edit comment" function like exists on Sharper Iron.

" There is no sin in this nor is your willingness to place yourself among different anthropological groups proof of some form of super or special spirituality."

Wow. We are called to place ourselves among different anthropological groups. It is precisely what being a missionary to fulfill the great commission consists of. And yes, some people are chosen by the Holy Spirit and gifted specifically for that work, from the apostles of old to people such as William Carey, Adoniram Judson, David Livingstone and Eric Liddell. Now it is true not everyone is specifically called to be a cross-cultural missionary, but that only makes the statement of yours more explicitly, demonstrably false, and perhaps the most glaring example of the improper orientation of your series. (

Alex Guggenheim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex Guggenheim said...

Let me answer each of the three entries separately.

You: “I ask you this: was “ecclesiastical” segregation wrong?”

Me: I already answered that in the series, but as a favor, yes it is not acceptable to practice ecclesiastical segregation which denies access to others for anthropological reasons.
As to segregated churches and who did and did not support them, the Bible does not. The Bible does not care about the demographic aggregate so long as no one is prohibited based on anthropological properties.


You: “Your arbitrary - and self-serving - distinction between "anthropologicalism" and spirituality, allow me to refer you to Acts 13 (the row between Hellenistic and Jewish widows over the former being discriminated against) and James 2 (which forbids false spirituality being used as an excuse to deny legitimate human issues).”

Me: Anthropologicalism and spirituality are quite distinct and the Bible treats them as distinct. I don’t know what you are referring to in James, you vaguely cited a book and a chapter but made no argument.

You: “Your claim that black emotionalism is rooted in "anthropologicalism" and focusing on it is "racial narcissism" while white intellectualism is legitimate because the Holy Spirit renews the mind is simply incredible.”

Me: I made no such claims, cite it please. I may have referred in part to these but how you have reconstructed bits of what I have said with other things I did not say but you appear to assume what you think I meant do not represent anything I stated in its context. Citations or quotes please.

Alex Guggenheim said...

You: "The church must develop and maintain its own cultural language that reflects the values and structures of the Scriptures and not of the current culture. This church language can only be shaped by a biblical theology which affirms the real presence of Jesus Christ in worship and our belief that this presence binds the culture together as a community."

Two problems with that. Jim Crow evangelicals most certainly imbibed their contemporary culture

Me: That would be a problem then with introducing ecclesiastical segregation into the body of Christ and its accompanied assumptions (assuming this is what you mean by Jim Crow). Of course the glaring problem is that you are trying to introduce an error practiced by another to either offset or minimize the error of the principle. It doesn’t matter what Jim Crow evangelicals do, if anyone else along with them is doing it, it is wrong. Your illustration fails.

You: “If chasing diversity is wrong, prohibiting it by refusing to allow nonwhites to join your churches and denominations is worse.”

Me: Chasing diversity is wrong and sinful. The second half of your argument is just like the above, no one is arguing this to be okay. I have made it clear in my series that the body of Christ is for believers regardless of anthropology. You are arguing with straw men which you have created.

You: At the very least, those who wish to see the church more integrated can claim to have a desire to show that the gospel transforms people and creates a church that transcends, rather than merely reflects, society, instead of the opposite case where churches are now actually more segregated than communities, schools and workplaces.

Me: It doesn’t matter what they desire, it is what God desires. The body of Christ is not a place to display, prove or establish anthropological integration, it is a place of non-anthropological classification, rather one of spiritual classification, believers and non-believers.



You: "Socially you might find yourself among more of one people than another."

“Were this - and some of your other arguments - the case, then there was nothing wrong with Peter and Barnabas withdrawing from table fellowship with the Gentiles.”

Me: Uh, yes friend and Peter was soundly rebuked by Paul for this. Your patently wrong here.

You: "There is no sin in this nor is your willingness to place yourself among different anthropological groups proof of some form of super or special spirituality."

“There is sin in excluding people from fellowship, which Jim Crow evangelicals and fundamentalists did for the entire history of this country save for the last few decades. “

Me: You are creating straw men no one is arguing. Feel free to argue with the air but no one is asserting Jim Crow Christianity.

Alex Guggenheim said...

You: “And if you are going out of your way to "be with your own kind", as MANY Christians do when they drive past black churches on their way to white ones (and vice versa) then that is carnal behavior that belies a spiritual maturity/sanctification issue that causes one to place his own comfort level above the gospel. Again, if avoiding worshiping with other racial groups is OK, then what was the error with Peter refusing table fellowship with the Gentiles? For it is of a certainty that one's salvation and relationship with God is not determined by who you eat with, hence table fellowship was not a spiritual activity according to your definition.

Again, so many scriptural omissions, denials and blind spots, so little time”

Me: So little facts from you but apparently plenty of time to create straw men. Frankly I believe you have a chip on your shoulder and are involved in some form of racial narcissism and this simply has hit home. But to the above.

The Bible teaches us that where the greatest spiritual food is available. So if anyone is driving past a church which they know will be spiritually more beneficial to them then they are neglecting their spiritual needs, hence sinning. No one is arguing otherwise.

So again, it is not OKAY to avoid other believers due to anthropological properties. Save your energy with the straw man construction.

Alex Guggenheim said...

You: " There is no sin in this nor is your willingness to place yourself among different anthropological groups proof of some form of super or special spirituality."

"Wow. We are called to place ourselves among different anthropological groups. It is precisely what being a missionary to fulfill the great commission consists of. And yes, some people are chosen by the Holy Spirit and gifted specifically for that work, from the apostles of old to people such as William Carey, Adoniram Judson, David Livingstone and Eric Liddell. Now it is true not everyone is specifically called to be a cross-cultural missionary, but that only makes the statement of yours more explicitly, demonstrably false, and perhaps the most glaring example of the improper orientation of your series."

Me: Your response does not fit the quote by me. I stated that neither being in differing anthropological groups nor not being in them proves anything nor are we required to do this to demonstrate any form of super or special spirituality. That remains true. Your response then starts in about missionaries and giving the gospel to others but admits that not all cross-cultural work is that which everyone is called to. You just MADE MY POINT. It isn’t a binding call to everyone.

And no one is arguing whether we are to fulfill the great commission. Another straw man. You have an army of these. But the fact is these men weren’t called to “cross-cultural” anything. I used the term only to accommodate you. They were called to carry the culture of Christ. Their culture was Christ, not their anthropological one.